Monday, July 19, 2010

We are in week two of our veggie challenge and everyone is doing amazing. The majority of you are transitioning from meat eating to a vegetarian diet, others are transitioning from vegetarian to vegan diets, and a few of you are going from vegan to raw. Whatever your transition, it is important to make sure you get the nutrients you need that you may have gotten solely from meat (and/or dairy) previously... So here are a few tips:

PROTEIN – Getting enough protein as a vegetarian/vegan isn’t as hard as many people think. Quinoa, beans, nuts and meat substitutes are all rich in protein.

IRON – Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.

VITAMIN B12 – There are many vegan foods fortified with B12. They include non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and one type of nutritional yeast. Brewer's and nutritional yeasts do not contain B12 unless they are fortified with it. At least two vegan B12-fortified yeasts are currently on the market: Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula and Twinlab Natural Nutritional Yeast.

VITAMIN D – Most vegans will obtain sufficient vitamin D providing they spend time outdoors on bright days. Fortified foods further ensure adequate amounts.

Vegans who may be confined indoors may be recommended a vitamin D supplement.

CALCIUM – Calcium is present in a wide range of foods... leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds (almonds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds), tofu, and dried fruit are all good sources of calcium for vegetarians.

OMEGA-3 – As there is no plant source of the essential fatty acid omega-3 DHA, vegetarians should consider taking vegan DHA capsules derived from algae.

IODINE – Good sources of iodine include iodized table salt, legumes, and soy.

ZINC – Vegetarians need to eat plenty of foods that are rich in zinc, such as beans lentils, yeast, nuts, seeds and wholegrain cereals. Pumpkin seeds provide one of the most concentrated vegetarian food sources of zinc.

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